Carmack: Violent video games are "potentially positive"

Being the creator of Doom carries a lot of street cred with the gaming community, but as id Software boss John Carmack has learned, it also makes one a constant target in the never ending video game violence debate. In his most recent interview on the topic with IndustryGamers, Carmack said not only has he never taken the issue seriously, he believes violent video games can actually create peaceful gamers.

“I really think, if anything, there is more evidence to show that the violent games reduce aggression and violence,” said Carmack, explaining, “There have actually been some studies about that, that it’s cathartic. If you go to QuakeCon and you walk by and you see the people there [and compare that to] a random cross section of a college campus, you’re probably going to find a more peaceful crowd of people at the gaming convention. I think it’s at worst neutral and potentially positive."

Narrowing in on Doom, Carmack recalls having to bite his lip for years following the hellish FPS's release in order to avoid adding fuel the mainstream media fire. Moreover, rather than regarding Doom as the game that revolutionized video game violence, Carmack said he instead sees it as the game that propelled the industry forward, explaining:
"I remember what I think was one of the turning points, really for the industry, when we were developing Doom and we were at our office and I noticed that the janitor that was emptying the trash had just been sitting there watching... John Romero was playing something and he had just been sitting there, a guy who probably never had played a video game in his life. And he was just mesmerized watching this. And I realized that we had reached a point now where we were reaching beyond the self-selected geeky gamer-type audience that used to be all that there was."

You can catch John Carmack's next bloody ultra-violent masterpiece(?), RAGE, on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this October.

Aug 1, 2011

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  • JornnyRamone - August 8, 2011 5:26 p.m.

    Violence in videogames doesn't affect me at all in the slightest, I'd be more affected by a jumpy scene like in Dead Space, or Bioshock. I've never been encouraged in a negative way via gaming, I'd probably find myself to be a better person from my gaming experiences. Thanks Phoenix Wright ;) But then there's always Game Rage... I started playing Mirror's Edge for the first time today, that got my blood boiling... But I'll stick to it and overcome it's artistic flair :)
  • rockbottom - August 3, 2011 6:39 p.m.

    @TheRandomFool: I was joking. Seems they don't teach sarcasm, irony and exageration for comedic effect in school any more either. "Irrevelent fear-mongering", you really see that when you read through this thread. All I see is a group of people having a laugh and therefore dis-proving the rediculous assertion that us gamers are being made violent by our games. Lighten up. Oh, and if your school really doesn't teach Religious Education any more then you may go ahead and count yourself very fortunate, because it's still ma big part of the curriculum round here.
  • smiley187 - August 1, 2011 11:11 p.m.

    I can't tell you how many times I wanted to stab somebody but didn't because I had a violent video game on hand.
  • TheRandomFool - August 1, 2011 10:37 p.m.

    @rockbottom - Being in school, I can tell you that religion is the last thing on their minds to teach. Everything in moderation people - preserve reality for real issues, not irrelevant fear-mongering.
  • Shanetexas - August 1, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    I mean, how much more violent and bloody can games get? At some point in a game, violence loses its oomph. Remembers that Simpsons episode with "Bloodstorm"?
  • rockbottom - August 1, 2011 4:57 p.m.

    Religion causes more violence than anything and they teach that shit in school!
  • mothbanquet - August 1, 2011 4:51 p.m.

    @rabidpotatochip - True, though that isn't specific to games and in the end this is about the singling out of games as a scapegoat. I can guarantee you that alcohol creates far more violence than gaming - just wander around my town on a Saturday night if you don't believe me.
  • rabidpotatochip - August 1, 2011 4:40 p.m.

    I think he's generally right but there is a subset of the population that can't separate the emotions of the game they're playing from the emotions they feel when they step away from whatever platform they're playing on, those are the people who DO become more violent from playing violent games.
  • UsernameLoser - August 1, 2011 4:28 p.m.

    And the fact that women are sexualized in video games makes nerdy gamers more willing to get a girlfriend. So games are actually pushing forward socialism. I hate the media and parents. You know how they say games are useless? And they're not important? Well, how come they get pissed if they find a sex scene in one? I quote my Mom: "It's just a game.". If it's just a game, then why the hell do you give a shit if I rip a guy's head off!?
  • bron1417 - August 1, 2011 3:15 p.m.

    Go Carmack! that is all.
  • Ultima - August 1, 2011 3:09 p.m.

    Doom and Doom 2 were my favourite games in secondary school. I played them both from start to finish and endlessly on multiplayer and I can honestly say neither me nor any of my friends ever felt compelled to violenty murder anybody with a double barrel shotgun. I did once use a BFG on a kitten but that's because I was having a bad day.
  • mothbanquet - August 1, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    Amen brother.
  • reuben0110 - August 1, 2011 12:39 p.m.

    I always thought violently murdering people in video games was much safer than violently murdering people in real life.
  • mockraven - August 1, 2011 11:57 a.m.

    I totally agree with this article and the previous comments. Video games have always been a form of stress relief for me. I'd have a terrible day at work, didn't want to take it out on my family, and I'd play a video game with lots of satisfying fake-monsters to bash. After an hour or two, I'd feel a lot better and my mood would improve enough that it was safe to interact with people again without fear of putting others in a foul mood, too.
  • jackthemenace - August 1, 2011 9:27 a.m.

    Well, it makes a change from Fox's usual crap. I've been putting up this debate for YEARS, and I'm glad to see other people agree with me. I've always found video-games to be sort of a stress relief. Admittedly, punching someone that pissed me off in the face WOULD be better, but video games are just... more easily accessible. I personally believe all the world's wars should be fought out on Team Fortress 2. Make DLC, not war.
  • CitizenWolfie - August 1, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    The guy makes a lot of sense. I agreed with his comments on CoD and I agree with him now. When I've had a particularly shitty day and hate everyone there's nothing that calms me down more than a session on Mortal Kombat or blazing a trail of destruction on GTA4. I can't punch out every annoying customer I deal with on a daily basis but it's nice to know I can come back home and randomly push the virtual citizens of Liberty City down some stairs. It's cathartic.
  • ashleymenvielle - August 1, 2011 8:43 a.m.

    Mr. Carmack, I agree with you.
  • rockbottom - August 1, 2011 8:20 a.m.

    First they told us it was TV that made us anti-social, then they said our music was evil, now the movies are corrupting us, then we're told the internet is turning us into perverts and our ipods are making us deaf. Now they say our games are making us violent. It doesn't sound to me like WE'RE the ones with all the problems.

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